Countdown to Destruction

Disclaimer: I do not own the Power Rangers, Justice League, Avengers or any other property. They belong to their respective copyright holders and are used without permission. Parts of this chapter were borrowed from Ellen Brand’s Final Frontier. Thanks Ellen.
Author’s Note: One important thing to mention in this chapter is that there are a lot more foot-soldiers in use than there were in Power Rangers in space. Dark Specter’s forces include Quantrons, Craterites, two different types of robotic soldiers and modified insect monsters. There is a race of ever smiling wrongly coloured humanoids that are rampaging through parts of the world.

From Out of Nowhere Part Two

"We have been detected," Ecliptor announced.

Astronema showed little concern at the revelation. Their attempts to disguise their movement shad been in her mind amateur at best. Had they not been detected she would have questioned the competence of their enemies.

"And their reaction?"

Here Ecliptor seemed to hesitate. "They appear uncertain. While they are readying themselves for an attack, they seem to be questioning whether this is some sort of trick."

She laughed. Of course, it was a trick. That perhaps was the only truth that had been revealed so far by either side. In the end it didn’t matter how they reacted because Dark Specter had devised a strategy to use in each possible scenario. However, for those strategies to be effective, they required the Earthling to decide and react.

"There is some discussion among the humans about whether this is really an invasion or an attempt to make peaceful contact," Ecliptor told her.

She sneered at the idea of such foolishness. You did not surround a planet with hundreds of invisible war ships just to say: "We come in peace". Still, the confusion and division such ideas created helped their cause, so for no she decided to allow the humans to continue not knowing.

Then a thought struck her, and she frowned in suspicion. "Those suggesting such ideas wouldn’t happen to be a part of Dark Specter’s advance forces, would they?"

She had a suspicion that those humans suggesting peaceful intentions were not humans at all. They were Craterites, shape shifting servants of Dark Specter that his scientists had created following the study and manipulation of another race. Grown to be loyal to Dark Specter, they were used to infiltrate planets before invasions. The careful placement of Craterite spies had made many of Dark Specter’s conquests easier.

"Dark Specter has been preparing for this invasion for some time," Ecliptor answered. "He has made his moves on many fronts, using all those forces at his disposal. There have been Craterites on this world doing his bidding for generations. Some have accomplished their tasks, while others have failed. All are ready to play their part according to his scheme."

And there it was, Dark Specter’s strategy at work. Forcing the enemy to turn upon itself, sowing the seeds of division and mistrust. Offering the false hand of friendship in anticipation that just considering his offer of peace would cost them allies. Creating threats that were not there to hide the attackers waiting around the next corner. This was the deceit and manipulation that had helped Dark Specter rise to become the Grand Monarch of Evil.

Even within the UAE he used petty squabbles and power plays to keeps his underlings focussed on each other and not his position. Oh, Master Vile would plot and Divatox would scheme her way into his graces. But so long as they were looking to guard their own positions, they could never take the risks necessary to unseat Dark Specter from his throne.

The use of Craterites on Earth served a similar purpose. They would never convince the military that the hundreds of ships surrounding the planet were there for peace and such pleas made to the politicians would fall on deaf ears. But creating that doubt, no matter how small it might be, slowed the response down while those politicians took the time to argue their counterpoints. It distracted the leaders from their primary goals and delayed responses to please for aid or permission for troops to set up defences in key locations. And those small delays could make a difference when it came to battle.

"Order one of the less threatening ships to reveal itself over one of their major cities," she instructed. "No, a capital, just somewhere important. Make it appear receptive to any gestures they make. Order the Craterites to urge the politicians to give peace a chance."

"Of course, my princess."

She nodded and returned to reviewing the battlefield. Everything was in place already, but with the knowledge that some of Dark Specter’s servants were already in place, she adapted those plans to take advantage of the disruption they could cause. And all that she needed was for the humans to make the wrong move, first.

Amadeus Cho possessed one of the greatest intellects on Earth. Within his own sphere of geniuses and super intelligent people, his mind was classified as one of the fastest and sharpest analytical tools in creation. Exposure to unknown forces before he was born had altered the chemistry of his brain, causing it to function like a superfast computer, capable of rapidly and without mechanical aid performing an infinite number of unimaginable complex and simultaneous calculations. In a fraction of a second and with minimal stimuli, he was capable of quickly, simultaneously and perfectly analysing multiple information streams and rapidly responding to changing tactical situations, by identifying the variables and quantum possibilities in any situation. And he used this information to adjust the outcome to whichever was most favourable to him.

Just hours earlier Cho had been presented with the biggest data set he had ever encountered. He had considered it a birthday and Christmas present come early for the next several years. Until he had sat down and glanced through the hundreds of reports and observations, his keen mind picking out patterns and details that work take teams of experts working around the clock weeks to notice. From his assessment of those reports he had come to a simple conclusion: the entire situation was a farce and everything they believed they knew about the enemy was wrong.

He couldn’t see the true picture. That would take time and in-depth study even for somebody with his intellect. Instead he could see the patterns of deceit. The mistruths revealed where multi points of data failed to match up or where data had been repeated to fill a void. There were signs of dishonesty and attempts to use an impressive number of forces to hide their real strength. It was a level of manipulation and understanding of psychology that led him to understand just how clever their opponent had been.

Nothing could be relied upon. Every shred of data and intelligence that had been gathered since the invasion fleet had been detected days earlier was suddenly suspect. And that meant that the true data that they had wanted to conceal, had also been hidden away.

He concluded that many of the ships that had been detected were there just for the purpose of being detected. The enemy was trying to make its forces appear bigger than they really were. At the same time, they were concealing those forces to make it hard to detect them. His conclusion was that they were trying to force Earth’s defenders to split up in order to cover more ground, a strategy that left them vulnerable if the enemy reacted as he expected.

One day he hoped that there would be a faster way for him to receive the raw data he needed to make his calculations. Paper files took too long and by the time he received what could have been vital information, it was out-of-date. Even so he had expected to hear that the invaders had stopped hiding and were moving in the open. His calculations showed that the energy expended to remain invisible and the extra work needed to coordinate an invisible fleet made remaining invisible once detected a poor choice.

"What are you really hiding?" he wondered, not for the first time. "Why are you just sitting there and not attacking? What are you waiting for? And why do I think it’s so much worse than we expect?"

Uncertainty ruled. An alien ship had appeared over a building in Los Angeles and had done nothing. For days it had just floated in the sky, showing no sign of aggression or life. The military had been dispatched on full alert and ready to open fire. Only to receive orders to stand down to a position of watchful waiting as politicians argued about how best to deal with the visitors. Most considered it a threat, but a vocal and growing number of voices were calling for a peaceful response.

It was exactly the response Astronema had been hoping for. Just as the military’s hands were tied, so the efforts of the planets heroes to plan and ready defences had been disrupted. The Power Rangers had tried to convince their governments to see the truth, but the secrecy surrounding the Rangers and the rest of the superhero community added a level of distrust that prevented the world’s leaders accepting their advice completely.

Waiting so long before commencing the invasion had not been a part of Astronema’s plan, but with the knowledge that Dark Specter’s forces were already at work on the surface, she had allowed time for them to complete their assigned tasks. Now though the moment had come, and the conquest of Earth could begin.


From nothing to all-out war. The sudden change took even those that had been expecting an assault by surprise. The Power Rangers and other forces had been on alert for almost a week and even as others started to go back to their routine lives and the military questioned if perhaps there was a problem with their instruments, the enemy attacked.

Some of the ships that had been previously hidden appeared over their intended targets. Some dropped machinery to the surfaces that allowed them to create energy domes to seal those inside away from the rest of the planet. Other ships dropped transporters containing troops onto their intended targets and still more unleashed wave after wave of fighter craft designed to attack the Earth’s military.

In the last week Astronema and her forces had monitored the planet’s response to their arrival, noting the communication centres and where there were clear signs of military movements. They had used that information to identify additional targets that had not been in their original plan and had moved their fleet accordingly. They had watched the reaction of the Earth heroes, tracking them as best they could so that when the strike was ready, they could make certain that they were targeted.

High above the planet, the Dark Fortress activated a barrier of its own. While there were ships in the fleet designed to cut off their individual targets, the Dark Fortress used its barrier to surround the entire planet, preventing outside interference or the possibility of escape.

Semi-organic drop ships – for Dark Specter’s forces seemed to be a mix of organic beings augmented by technology – deployed massive numbers of troops and tanks to the surface. Some were machines built from the best materials available and utilising the technology stolen from fallen foes. While lacking the intelligence of the Machine Empire’s servants, they were relentless in combat. Others were the result of genetic manipulation and advanced technology. And some were just creatures Dark Specter’s forces had encountered and turned to his will.

As the invasion started Dark Specter’s forces sprang into action. In places that had been identified as having low resistance, Quantrons marched through their new territory, headed by Dark Specter’s trusted servants. As they pushed their way onward, they herded the humans into containment areas where they would be dealt with later, while culling those that resisted or failed to move quickly enough.

Once she was satisfied that the attack was underway as planned, Astronema turned her attention to other matters.

"Tell Astronoma to proceed."

SHIELD Helicarrier Atlas

"Okay I would say this is going to be a busy day," Agent Hill said as she surveyed the limited information available.

Almost a week after being detected an alien fleet known to have ships covering positions across the globe had suddenly mobilised. Sites around the planet were under attack, many of which had not been identified as being at risk during earlier briefings. Earth’s defenders had already mobilised in response but had found themselves up against a mixed army composed of units they had no knowledge of how to deal with. And something was interfering with communications making coordination even more difficult.

The addition of the domes in some areas had also thrown them. The energy barriers not only prevented access to the areas they covered, but disrupted flight paths around the area. It was just another inconvenience that delayed their ability to respond and kept them off balance. She had no doubt that that was exactly what had been intended.

"And because the domes are below the level of most satellites, communication with those inside the domes has been extremely limited," she said.

"That’s not all, is it?"

"No sir. Remember that theory that they had allowed themselves to be detected just so they could watch our reaction and pick out additional targets? Turns out we should have listened. As soon as they launched their attack, they deactivated their cloaking devices. They have forces covering every military installation on the planet capable of mustering forces against them. We’ve got reports coming in of military engagements and potential loses around the world. They’re knocking out everything we have." There was a pause as she glanced at the radar. "And that includes here."

"Full alert!" he ordered. "Do a complete search for any assets not already dispatched and activate them. We’re going to need all the help we can get on this one. We need to find a way to hit those bring those domes down and take out some of those ships."

The helicarrier shook from the impact as alien fighters strafed its decks. And as she hurried to carry out her orders and agents scrambled to their positions; Agent Hill knew this was not going to be a good day.

Angel Grove Elementary

Teddy Oliver was being bored out of his mind. He usually liked English class, but this teacher was perhaps the most unexciting one he had ever had. He couldn’t wait until he was older, and he could get into Miss Appleby’s class. Tommy always said she was one of the more interesting English teachers in the Angel Grove school system.

Still listening with one ear as the teacher droned on, he turned to the window and stopped suddenly. "Whoa!" he breathed, astonished.

"Mr. Oliver, do you have something you wish to share with the class?" Miss Nelson asked sharply.

"Um, yeah, I think so. You’d better come take a look at this." The rest of the class, including Miss Nelson, crossed to the windows with him. There were gasps of astonishment and worry as they watched a huge dome of energy move across the sky, blotting out the sun and throwing the city into a strange twilight.

"I think we’re in deep trouble," Teddy murmured, to no one in particular.

"JUSTIN! What the hell just happened?" Red Turbo demanded as a domed barrier appeared overhead, followed by the launch of dozens of fighter craft and hundreds of Quantrons.

Blue Turbo had his computer out and was typing rapidly. "It appears to be some sort of barrier. I can’t really analyse it without the Power Chamber’s equipment, but I think somebody just decided to seal us inside."

It had been a week since their encounter with the Harvester and the Rangers had been on alert. As the days had passed the stress had started to show. In fact if asked some of the Rangers would admit they were finally able to stop waiting for an attack and do something.

Green Turbo drew his Auto Blaster and opened fire on an incoming craft. It burst into flames, forcing the Ranger to duck before it crashed.

Blue Turbo had drawn his Turbo Hand Blasters and opened fire on the nearest wave of Quantrons. Normally the Rangers would engage foot soldiers hand-to-hand, but they were outnumbered and needed to even the odds.

"Okay that dome is being generated from multiple points around Angel Grove," Blue Turbo told his team-mates between shots. "That ship up there is the piece that’s holding it together."

"But is it meant to keep us in or stop others helping us?" Pink Turbo asked. She had drawn her Turbo Power Weapon and picked off Quantrons from a distance as Yellow Turbo slammed her energised fists into the Quantrons’ bodies.

"Zordon? Alpha?" Red Turbo tried, but there was no response. "Maybe both," he decided in response to Pink Turbo’s query. "Either way we’re on our own for now."

The fight was brutal. Far outnumbered by their foes, the Turbo Rangers fought valiantly, but were slowly being overwhelmed. Two Quantrons knocked Pink Turbo into a wall several times, only to be nearly decapitated by a series of Green Turbo’s powerful kicks. Three Quantrons ganging up on Blue Turbo were driven back by Yellow Turbo swinging a discarded pipe as if it were a bo-staff. But despite their courage and skill, for every Quantron the Turbos destroyed, there seemed to be five more waiting in the wings.

"Fred, we can’t keep this up!" Pink Turbo shouted over the noise of battle.

"And those things are spreading out across the city," Green Turbo noted.

"We need to split up and keep them away from the monster shelters," Red Turbo decided. The others agreed and the team sped off to intercept the Quantrons.

Teddy’s sixth grade class wasn’t getting much work done. No one, not even the teacher could concentrate on the lessons with the dome outside, although most were trying. Teddy, however, was making no attempt to join in the lesson. Instead, he was absorbed in thought.

That thing’s got to be some type of barrier, he mused. It must have been created to keep people in, and reinforcements out. But if no one can get in, then we’re stuck with eleven Rangers. I wonder if Tommy’s on the job. I have a feeling that things are going to get big.

Suddenly a loudspeaker crackled to life, startling them all. "Attention students," the principal announced, nervousness in his voice. "Communications are still sketchy, but we’ve been informed that there is a force of alien foot soldiers heading our way. You are to leave your classrooms and head for the gymnasium, where you will be evacuated in an orderly manner."

There wasn’t time for the students to obey. The windows suddenly came crashing in under the force of several Quantrons. One reached out and grabbed Miss Nelson, who was closest.

True to family tradition, Teddy didn’t think; he reacted. Picking up a chair, he swung at the nearest Quantron, knocking it into a wall before turning to smoothly kick the next one. "Everybody out of the school!" he bellowed, sounding a great deal like his brother. "NOW, damn it!" The shock of the unexpected language galvanized the class into action, and they began rushing out the door. Gritting his teeth, Teddy set himself for a fight that he had no chance of winning.

A forceful kick sent him flying out into the hall. Striking the lockers, he fell to the floor, the world swimming around him. Painfully, he rose to his feet as the Quantrons followed him into the hall. "I’d love to stay and chat," he managed, breathing deeply, "but I’ve got to go. In the meantime, though, why don’t you have a bath?" Reaching up, he pulled the fire alarm, setting off both the sirens and the sprinklers. Then he ran off, disappearing into the quickly misting hallways. He really hoped that they would rust before they caught him.

The sounds of battle suddenly drew Teddy’s attention as he ran through the halls. Pausing, he listened hard, trying to identify the direction from which they came.

"You keep- *thwack*- your hands- *whack*- OFF my family!" a voice cried, punctuated by the sounds of something striking a hard, metal surface. Teddy followed the noise to a fifth-grade classroom, where Juan De Santos was keeping a pair of Quantrons at bay with Widowmaker, his ever-present baseball bat. Fervently, Teddy gave thanks that the teachers allowed Juan to carry his father’s bat around as sort of a security blanket. Meanwhile, Emilia, Miguel, and Alejandro were holed up behind the teacher’s desk, chucking erasers, pencil cans, and textbooks at their assailants.

"Mind if I join the party?" Teddy asked, leaping into the room. Between the two boys, the Quantrons were quickly taken care of.

"Thanks, amigo," Juan puffed, leaning on his baseball bat.

"No problem. But we can’t hang around here. There’s probably twenty or so of the things in this building. We’ve got to get out of here before they catch us."

"No argument here," Juan replied as the three youngest De Santos kids came out from behind the desk.

"I’m scared," Emilia confessed.

Teddy nodded. "Me too. We’ll be all right, though."

"What happens if they catch us?" Alex wanted to know.

"Take a wild guess," snorted Miguel. Teddy shook his head.

"I don’t think they’ll kill us. It doesn’t matter, though, because they’re not gonna catch us. We’re gonna get out of here if Juan has to use that table-leg of his to make us a new door."

"Watch what you say about my bat, Shaggy," Juan grinned. The five of them headed out into the corridors of the school, alert for any type of attack.

"Where are we going?" Alex asked.

"The Youth Center," Teddy replied. "Tommy once told me it’s the most easily defensible building in the city."

"Forget the Youth Center!" Juan shot back. "We have to go home! Mom will be going nuts!"

Teddy grabbed the younger boy before he could move off. "You’d never make it! These things are probably all over the city! You won’t be doing your mom any good by getting captured. We go to the Youth Center, and then we try to call home, all right? But none of us is going off half-cocked!" The two boys locked eyes for a long moment, then Juan nodded. As they made their way out of the building, Teddy had a sudden thought. ~Tommy must feel like this all the time.~

Washington DC

Wonder Woman smashed her shield into the face of one attacker as her sword decapitated another. This was battle the likes of which she had not seen for a while and inside she relished the challenge as she hacked her way through the invading forces, making her way to where the army had formed their own line and were attempting to keep the invaders at bay. While they had been forced to break out heavier weapons, she was pleased to see that they were holding the attacking force back, allowing her to mount a counter offensive.

She had never seen this type of warrior before and she had made it a point to at least familiarise herself with some of the Power Ranger’s foes when the JLA had received the warning about the alien invasion. If she was forced to guess she would have said they had once been an insect race of some sort. But the metal wings spoke of heavy modification. They were armed with various weapons, the deadliest of which she had noted was the stingers concealed behind their hands. They were a threat but kept at a distance by gunfire they could be taken down.

A Velocifighter swooped down from on high, firing at the troops on the ground. She responded by grabbing one a discarded sword and hurling it at the incoming ship. The Velocifighter exploded, causing the soldiers behind her to cheer.

"The President and First Lady have been evacuated to the underground bunker," Commander Trevor reported as he stepped up beside her, using his side arm to take down three more of the invaders. "There might be a lot of these things, but they sure go down easy."

It was true. Despite their numbers, the invaders were not that difficult to overcome. In fact, now that she thought about it, she realised she had been disappointed by just how easily they had been to overcome. Their bodies despite possessing armour were weak and despite carrying weapons into combat, not one seemed to have any real skill in using them.

Something wasn’t right.

Sydney, Australia

"Ring, identify." Hal Jordan ordered.

"Unable to comply function disabled."

Hal sighed as he summoned a giant green hand to squash a squad of approaching machine warriors. These were not the Quantrons he had been shown during the briefing. They were much more mechanical with metal heads that reminded him more of hammers than helmets. Unfortunately, since his permanent reassignment to Earth, he had discovered that the new role was as much a punishment as a recognition of the problems the planet faced. The Lantern Corps had allowed him to retain his ring but had disabled many of the functions that had made it more than just a fancy energy to matter converter. And while being able to transmute energy into whatever form the wielder decided was the most important function a ring could possess when in the field, he had been a Lantern long enough to appreciate the other functions, without which he felt diminished.

With a mental shrug he summoned a couple of jet fighters and directed them to battle the enemy craft. So far, his constructs had had an easy time against the robotic invaders. Their armour offered almost no resistance to his arsenal, proven when he sent a green fist into the face of yet another machine.

He turned to face a robot that had been approaching from behind, its club-like weapon raised.

"You call that a club?" Hal quipped before summoning an exceptionally large green club and using it to flatten his attacker. "That’s a club!"

When the Justice League had called in their reserves, Hal had reluctantly resumed his role as one of the planet’s protectors. Now though as he threw a train construct at his enemies, he had to admit that he had missed active duty.

"Ring, can you contact any other lanterns?"

"Communication function is restricted to Earth," the artificial intelligence replied. "There are three active rings available."

"Let’s hope they’re having as good a time as I am."

Miami, Florida

~Twenty-to-one and more on the way,~ Black Morphin thought as his team fought back the throng of robots.

They were hopelessly outnumbered and had quickly realised there was little they could do to help the terrified populace as the machines started to rip their way through cars, shops and homes. At least not until they could clear a path through the massive army.

"Who sends so many soldiers into battle without a plan?" Blue Ranger asked.

It turned out that Dark Specter’s forces were not just relying on Quantrons as Zordon had first believed. There had been reports of part-machine, part-organic insect warriors. And then there were the machines. They were not Quantrons. They were purely robotic soldiers engineered to fight. They carried heavy metal clubs and as Zack had already discovered, they could pack a punch.

So far, they had seen little strategy from the machines. If they had been given orders to do anything more than cause a panic, they did not show it. There was no direction, nobody giving the orders of where to fight. It was almost as if they were there just to be destroyed

A loud battle cry reminded them that not everyone objected to such a scenario. Red Ranger had thrown himself into battle and while outnumbered by a group of surprisingly tough robot, he was loving every minute of it.

"Power Sword!"

An energised burst of red energy dealt with his opponents as Green Ranger used his Dragon Blade to dispose of another batch.

"Please tell me they’re not keeping score," Kimberly begged as she used her Blade Blaster to take out three machines of her own. When she heard her leader call out a number she sighed. "Boys!"

"Are these foot soldiers or cannon fodder?" White Ranger asked as his he cut down another. So far, the Rangers had not really been tested by their foes.

That was about to change.

Astronema watched as the battles unfolded on the planet below. When Dark Specter had increased the production of robotic foot soldiers, he had ordered that the quality of their armour be reduced to speed up the manufacturing process. The result was that the forces dispatched in the first wave were weaker than they should have been. And while their numbers meant that Earth’s defenders would still be defeated, Astronema anticipated heavy losses.

However, they were serving their purpose and keeping the defenders of Earth occupied while the rest of Dark Specter’s plan unfolded.

Crossworld City

The police were out on the street, herding civilians away from the oncoming army. Some would have argued that fighting the marching machines was a job for the VR Troopers, Crossworld City’s local heroes. However, anybody close to the city centre would have been quick to argue that they had their hands full with a monster.

Red in colour it resembled a large hedgehog with sneakers. JB had been the first to ask if they should get Sega to sue. Then it had attacked, and the jokes were forgotten as the three Troopers found themselves struggling to keep up. Wherever the inspiration for the monster had come from, it was fast and despite their armour, its spikes could hurt.

"Laser Lance Command!" Black Trooper bellowed.

"Laser Sword Command!" Blue Trooper called a moment later as together they double teamed their opponent.

The hedgehog responded by curling into a ball before their weapons could connect, shielding itself from the energy. Then it was back on the attack as it spun toward them like a saw blade.

"VR Sickle Command!" White Trooper intoned, Pulled out her double-sided sick weapon.

White Trooper jumped in close, driving her weapon into the hedgehog’s foot, preventing him from moving as her companions followed her lead and attacked. With the three of them working together the monster was soon down… but not out. Although they were not sure how it managed it, the fallen monster was back on its feet and significantly larger as it towered over them.

"VR Troopertron Command, now!" Black Trooper called.

The fight was on.

Gotham City, USA

"Yes, Master Bruce, I have them on radar now. Transferring data from the Bat Computer … now. I have to say these are not the things Mr Jordan described."

Gotham City was under attack, not for the first time. But it seemed that while other members of the Justice League had been dealing with insect warriors, Gotham had been exposed to a different threat. Black and purple robotic warriors with an obvious bat motif swarmed through the streets, killing  anybody unfortunate enough to get in their way. And from the looks of it neither the police nor the army were managing to hold them back.

"It’s a mass invasion across the world, Alfred. They have more than one sort of soldier at their disposal," Batman surmised as he knocked one of the creatures aside. Taking the opportunity to check the data feed before dealing with the next. Alfred was more than capable of dealing with data analysis and he need his head in the game. "They are attacking sites across the city… correction, they are attacking throughout the city. They are everywhere."

"Do you think that chose that design deliberately?" Robin asked as he pummelled one of the machine-bats with his staff. These things were not not easy to put down even one at a time.

"I doubt it," Batman responded as he sliced one in half with the forearm blades in his armour.

For this encounter he was wearing a new suit based upon the armour Tony Stark had sent to him months earlier. At first when he had decided to accept the gift he had planned to change a few features. As the months had passed and he had worked on it with Alfred between cases, he had realised that with the increasing number of changes he planned to make, what did he actually want to keep? And that of course raised the question of what situation he would use it for?

While humanoid bat robotic armies sweeping through the streets of Gotham was not quite the same as zombie hordes, he had realised that this suit was one of his best options. An now he knew that were not living beings, just machines, he could increase the level of firepower he used. The suit therefore retained all of the deployment mechanisms Stark had included in the original armour and with multiple firing methods and automatic targeting, it was made for rapid fire at large numbers of opponents. The problem was that Gotham was a big place and so far they had only stopped a few of the machines.

"Sir, a large number of them are trying to break into the children’s hospital. The police are unable to hold them back."

"I’m on it," Robin stated. "You try and find a way to stop them."

Batman nodded, reaching into the chest of one of the warriors he had just downed and pulling out a small device. Maybe he had just found their first clue.

Paris, France

Controlled rage and a bad attitude. That was how some would describe Guy Gardner. The man was many things, but right now he was a warrior in possession of a Red Lantern Ring. Like the device held by Hal Jordan, Guy’s ring allowed him to form physical constructs out of energy. Unlike Hal Jordan’s ring, the device Guy Gardner possessed was tuned to respond to a specific wavelength of mental energy. It turned out that rage and anger triggered released the chemicals need to accomplish such a feat.

And Guy had a lot to be angry about when it came to the Lantern Corps. He had been a so-called Green Lantern. He had risen through the ranks of the organisation and become one of the leaders. And then all that had been revealed as a plot to destroy the careers of Earth’s Lanterns and leave them isolated on a single world.

And Guy Gardner did not have time for jet fighters and trains. He used his ring to create a baseball bat and plunged into battle, smashing the heads of multiple opponents. When he found the repetitive bashing too slow, he switched from a baseball bat to an enormous chainsaw. As reinforcements approached, he dismissed the chainsaw, clobbering them with a giant recreation of his own booted foot instead.

Chicago, USA

John Stewart was a former military man and an architect by trade. He constructs were precise and accurately generated down to the smallest detail. And with full application of his imagination and willpower, he summoned up an infantry of marines complete with weapons and ammunition. His small army of constructs fired upon the invading army, putting them down in a demonstration of expert ring craft.

Like Guy Gardner, John had worked his way through the ranks of the Lantern Corps. He had given his service freely and without reward, driven by a sense of duty. And that had been taken from him by a clandestine plot to humiliate the Lanterns of Earth and remove them from matters beyond their own world. Like Hal Jordan, he felt diminished by the limitations placed upon his ring.

But John Stewart remained driven by purpose and duty. Just a year ago he had met with another hero, one who had inspired him to take his duty even more seriously and had instilled in him a new sense of purpose. And that was why despite the overwhelming numbers, he fought on.

The weapons he had formed shifted at his command turning from something he could use against ground troops into a weapon he could use to shoot down some of the alien ships that swooped on his position.

Duty was all fine and good, but John had to admit that on some level… he was having fun.

Hiroshima, Japan

Kyle Rayner, the Earth’s newest and youngest Lantern was a little unorthodox when it came to his constructs. As an artist his imagination knew no bounds and his willpower allowed him to turn those ideas into reality. When the villain Minion had attacked the Earth, Kyle had been one of those that paid the price. And while his severe injuries were reversed, the phantom pains caused by the memory of losing his hands had darkened his thoughts.

So, when confronted by another alien army intent of overrunning the planet, he did not hold back on unleashing his demons against his opponents. Giant gummy bears with razor sharp claws, monsters that should have belonged in horror movies and suit of battle armour that would have put Iron Man to shame. All were unleashed upon the poor unsuspecting foot-soldiers, who sadly never had a chance.

Central City

The Speed Force was to most of its users an energy source that could be tapped and directed. And there were many ways in which that energy could be accessed. Some were born with a connection that manifested as they aged. Others like the Turbo Power Rangers used devices that had been connected to the energy field by the wizard Lerigot. And then there were those that had always been destined to access the power of the Speed Force but had no way to forge such a connection. Men such as Barry Allen who had been destined to become one of the Speed Force’s greatest avatars. In those cases, science and nature took a back seat as fate took over.

It was fate that had seen Barry working inside his lab during a storm surrounded by chemicals. It was fate that allowed the bolt of lightning to strike the chemicals in just the right way so that it started a molecular storm. It was destiny that when the explosive force had struck Barry Allen, instead of killing him the altered chemicals had changed his biology and given him a connection to the Speed Force.

From there Barry Allen had become the Flash, the Fastest Man Alive. He had been a hero and a key member of the Justice League and some of its successors. And though had retired from being the Flash before the Machine Empire had arrived, he had never lost his touch. The Speed Force drove him to be the fastest man alive and the Quantrons sent to conquer his city could not keep up as he circled around them at high speed, gradually reducing the size of the circle and colliding with the robot army as he did so. It was a one-man demolition derby as Quantrons were thrown about by the power of the Speed Force.

China, France, Germany, Iran, Sri Lanka, Mexico and Vietnam; Thailand, Pakistan, Russia, the United States, Nigeria and Poland. Around the world the battles were being fought as heroes and soldiers tried to hold back the offensive. The number of enemy soldiers cut down in battle had reached the low thousands. It was without doubt a costly exercise that would have caused many commanders to balk.

But Astronema watched the rising number dispassionately, waiting as her forces continued to fight. And as the numbers rose, she comforted herself that when all the battles had been fought and the heroes' hands were raised in victory… she would turn it into their greatest defeat.

End of Part.

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